The 5 Most Relatable Dad Punchlines From Mike Birbiglia's New Netflix Special
The Old Man And The Pool is a masterclass in dad-aged comedy.
In a comedy scene suddenly flooded with performances from funny dads, Mike Birbiglia’s new Netflix special The Old Man And The Pool is set apart as a unique offering. For starters, the show wasn’t part of a standard tour that took place in nightclubs across the country but was instead a two-and-a-half month-long Broadway run at the Lincoln Center Theater's Vivian Beaumont Theatre.
In many ways, The Old Man And The Pool acts as a sequel to Birbiglia’s 2019 Broadaway show The New One, where he hilariously recounted his emotional and physical journey to parenthood. With a narrative style that veers more into extended monologue than traditional standup, The Old Man And The Pool captures Birbiglia’s more current contemplations about aging and death.
Neither of Birbiglia’s Broadway shows includes musical numbers, but they both possess a musicality that makes them a fit for the theater district. In a conversation about the development of The Old Man And The Pool on Mike’s podcast Working It Out with his brother Joe, they get into how the show is a blending of theater and standup.
“Well, one of the more challenging parts about trying to pitch on your shows sometimes for me, is I like to focus on jokes on high points of laughter,” Joe says. “But often you like dramaturgy. You're figuring out the story and the tempo. It's like, that's really funny, but we don't wanna laugh there.”
“It's true,” Mike chimes in. “Because there's a musicality to the shows. The shows have a rhythm.”
What results is 85 minutes of giggling past the graveyard with a handful of instances where Birbiglia stops the audience dead in its tracks by folding in poignant shots of emotional vulnerability that many people, and especially dads, will find cut to the core of their own fears and insecurities about aging and mortality.
Although Birbiglia demonstrates an ability to powerfully change gears on a dime, the special never feels herky-jerky thanks to his mastery of the art of relatability. His stories are most certainly his stories, but they convey versions of thoughts and experiences that many of us share.
It would be unfair to spoil the most hilarious and most moving bits in the special because those should all be taken in firsthand. But here are the funniest relatable bits from The Old Man And The Pool.
5. Doctor Visits Get Tough As You Age
Trips to the doctor kind of suck once you reach adulthood. You no longer get stickers and suckers for being a big boy, while a whole new slew of recommended checks and procedures go far beyond saying “ahhhh” while sticking your tongue out. “I turned 44 this year,” Burbiglia says as he sets up the premise for the show. “I’ve found as I’ve gotten older, the items in my doctor’s office that I thought were decorative…are quite functional.”
4. Experiencing Anxiety Attacks
Birbiglia has been open in the past about his anxiety and resets his history for those who may be unfamiliar with his previous specials. He relays a story where he feels extreme shortness of breath to the point where he almost passes out on the subway as he heads to his home in Brooklyn. It’s not the first time this has happened to Birbiglia, as he’s experienced these symptoms from his youth.
Unfortunately, his parents didn’t usually respond in ways that were understanding or helpful.
”I remember being in the passenger seat of my dad’s car when I was a kid, and I’m experiencing shortness of breath, and he looks over and goes, “Why are you breathing like that?” Which is always helpful I find when you’re experiencing a physical difficulty for someone to scold you until it goes away. I’m sure that won’t manifest itself later in life,” Birbiglia deadpans.
3. The Brooklyn YMCA’s Swim Cap Policy
It doesn’t take a super sleuth to figure out that The Old Man And The Pool would contain some swimming stories. Birbiglia’s swimming hole of choice is the pool at the Brooklyn YMCA. And while reflections on swimming shirtless would provide predictable punchlines for a middle-aged man taking up the sport, it was the pool’s swim cap policy that stoked Birbiglia’s insecurities the first time he met his instructor.
“She goes, “It’s mandatory unless you’re completely bald,”” says Birbiglia. “And I said, “I don’t like how you leaned on the word ‘completely.'” I’m not even remotely bald. I have four distinct tufts of hair that form a Voltron of hair that lies artfully atop my head.”
2. What It Means To Be Obsessive
“I have a kind of an obsessive personality,” Birbiglia explains while describing a time he spent hours scouring Airbnb for the perfect accommodation. “If you don’t know someone who’s obsessive, you need to know it’s a very sexy quality. Like, your husband will disappear down an Airbnb rabbit hole for seven hours, and when he comes up for air, he’ll eat a whole box of Triscuits. And you’ll think, “I wanna bang this guy.””
1. How Much Pee Is In A Public Pool?
Sometimes, it’s best to just live in a state of denial. Or at least a state of ambiguity. But when it comes to how much pee is in the average swimming pool, Mike Birbiglia opted to shatter our naivete by sharing what he learned online.
“I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I looked it up, and it’s not great out there on the internet. I mean, I…,” he starts before pausing to let the crowd get some laughs out.
“Well, I read about this scientific study where these folks analyzed a 200,000-gallon public pool, and they concluded that it contained 20 gallons of pure urine, uh, which is too much, I think,” he shares while the crowd’s laughter gets even louder. “Percentage-wise, it’s not that much, but if you picture it, that’s a full tank of gas! That’s a Ford F-150 full of urine, and that’ll… that’ll get you to Pittsburgh.”